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Of Verdant Fields

This is going to be a little different from my usual blogs. I have a subject in mind, but it’s not one that I have a real opinion on. I do, but it’s not well-informed.

The subject is the legalization or at least the de-criminalization of marijuana. It’s not necessarily a hot button issue during this election campaign – none of the major candidates are discussing it as part of their platforms that I’m aware of and few of them seem to have any sort of opinion on the matter other than that it’s illegal and the law regarding it should be enforced.

It should be noted that I have a bit of prejudice in the matter; I’m allergic to cannabis. I found out the hard way in college. That was both a negative and a positive in the sense that it robbed me of a social outlet that was pretty widespread at the time, but at the same time it discouraged me from experimenting with recreational narcotics.

But that shouldn’t have anything to do with the matter at hand. Should marijuana be legalized? Should you be able to buy it at the corner market? There are compelling reasons both pro and con and in all honesty I can’t really make up my mind about it.

There’s no doubt that there are medicinal uses for marijuana and to that end several states are already allowing its availability as a prescription drug only. The plant also has other uses as hemp; it makes a durable rope as well as excellent fertilizer. Fabric can be made from it that can be weaved into garments. Even aside from its recreational use, the marijuana plant is a very useful plant.

There is also no doubt that compared to alcohol its effects are far less destructive on the human body. It is less addictive than alcohol or tobacco, and used in moderation has salubrious effects on the body. Legalizing it would allow government oversight to protect consumers from using product that has been spiked with more dangerous materials from pesticides to psychedelics. It would also allow the government to receive revenue from what is one of the largest cash crops in the country which would go a long way to reducing the deficit.

Those are some of the pros. There is also a con side. Like any substance, when overused or abused health issues can follow ranging from respiratory problems to cancer and even issues memory loss. Marijuana can impair judgment not to mention reflexes.

While marijuana has a reputation of being a gateway drug, there is no scientific evidence that marijuana users are any more likely to “graduate” to harder drugs like cocaine or heroin than non-users. However, pot farmers are breeding plants with higher levels of THC in them and the long-term effects of that are largely unknown. Pot with more of a kick could conceivably turn marijuana into something addictive.

It also has to be said that alcohol and tobacco are substances that America is having trouble with, although there has been some progress in reducing the number of smokers. I can’t see us faring any better with pot, although to be honest I don’t know if there will be a great upsurge in users if it’s legalized. My guess is there will be a slight upswing but not a very large bump at all. Most of the people who would use it are probably already using it. They might use it more often, particularly if legalizing it brings costs down although that remains to be seen if it will happen that way.

My attitude towards it has always been “We already have alcohol and tobacco; we don’t need another legal substance that impairs like they do.” Then again, there’s the freedom issue – should government be able to restrict what recreational substances we use in our own homes if they are not any more dangerous to ourselves and others than what is already legal? I have to admit that part of the equation is troublesome. Certain sexual acts are outlawed in individual states (such as Oral Sex in Georgia, although it’s obviously not enforced) from morality laws dating back to the 19th century; no government on Earth should regulate what I do for enjoyment in my own home as long as I’m not bothering anybody. Enjoying a joint and a blow job is certainly less intrusive into the lives of those around me than the guy down the block with the circular saw that he starts using at 7am every weekend morning.

I find it somewhat ironic that Republicans who advocate minimal government interference into our daily lives find marijuana reform to be so anathema. You would think that legalization would fall right into step with their smaller government platform. After all, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year in fighting the drug war against marijuana alone. I think they associate pot with hippies and anti-war activists, which then becomes more of a “if you like it then I’m against it” knee-jerk reaction. But that’s just my own observation.

I’m still kind of undecided about the whole thing. Certainly I’m more open-minded about it than I was ten years ago. Call me a slow learner. Again, I recognize that a great deal of my antipathy on the subject has a lot more to do with my own allergies than my common sense. I also recognize that most law enforcement agencies are against legalization, even though legalizing pot would allow them to divert resources to other types of crime that require it.

It’s a thorny subject, at least for me. I’m tending to lean at the moment for legalization; that’s something I wouldn’t have done not so long ago. Still, the thought of verdant fields of marijuana plants in open farmland tickles my fancy a bit, although one wonders what effect it will have on legitimate farmers who suddenly see a more profitable crop available to them. Pot may become cheap but lettuce might become expensive. I’m sure there would be a lot of unforeseen consequences to legalization; there always are.

So again it boils down to freedom versus security. Should people be free to use recreational drugs (including alcohol and tobacco) of a reasonable potency or should the war on drugs continue – a war that, like Chris Christie’s ass, go on forever with no resolution in sight?


One Response

  1. Reblogged this on Medical Miracle, Million Dollar Cash Crop, or Both? and commented:
    Another’s outlook on legalization

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